London, Aug 3: India bowed out of the London Olympics after being thrashed 2-5 by the Germans in a crucial Pool B match on Friday. The Indian defence stood exposed just like the previous two matches against the Netherlands and New Zealand and the defending champions did not spare any effort to pump in more goals than the other two opponents.
The German forwards played at will inside the circle while the Indian defenders looked baffled. The Indians had no answer to the ruthless German counter-attack led by the likes of Florian Fuchs and Oliver Korn. The Germans, who were leading 4-1 during the interval, could have made the score more humiliating but they failed to convert quite a few opportunities.
Conceding soft goals has been a drawback for the Indian hockey team. Lack of team combination is another problem for which the Indian think-tank has found no answer so far. What is found from India's matches is just individual flashes but no combined effort, which is necessary to put up a minimum fight against top teams. If the Indians had hoped that they would make the right combination in a tournament like the Olympics, they were utterly wrong. These issues should have been sorted out long ago.
What is the captain doing?
The case of India's captain has been baffling. If the skipper, Bharat Chetri is not ready to take the turf as the first goalkeeper in a key match, then what's the use for having him as a captain? The strategy was a disastrous one and put India on the back-foot even before the match had started. The back-up goalkeeper PR Sreejesh had too much of an ask against the German onslaught. Questions are being raised about the wisdom of appointing Chetri as the skipper when there were other players senior to him in the side. Even Chetri has not been a regular player for the side and found him in and out frequently for the last few tournaments. The captaincy issue makes one suspect that India's preparations for the Games were not upto the mark.
Qualifying-round performance was misleading
India's splendid performance in the qualifying round received too much media hype but all those 36 goals the team scored in that tournament was against weak teams. The joy that erupted after India qualified for the Games was, it seems, more for regaining an Olympic berth and not an opportunity to target a medal. India's habit of winning an Olympic medal in hockey looks to be a thing of the past.
Hockey is over for us
Many of the former Indian players rightly predicted that it would be a miracle if the team made the semi-finals at the London Games but did the current players have an idea about their current standings? May be inadequate exposure against the top hockey nations today made the Indians live in a fool's paradise. There is no denying of the fact that India today lags years behind international standards in hockey and any chances of winning a medal at the Olympics is all but over. We still hope for a medal just because we had won eight golds once. That was a different era and can't be repeated. It's wise to concentrate on other sporting disciplines in Olympics, in which India are doing better, from here onwards.
Revealing six-pack abs!
It was claimed that after Michael Nobbs took over as the coach, the Indian hockey team has gained great physical fitness. But on the turf, they were clearly struggling against the European opponents. The players had proudly declared before the Games that they would reveal their six-packs if they did well! Now, with not even a point to their names so far, the Indian players would surely look to hide their faces over making such tall claims.
Will India's rank be worst-ever this time?
From here on, India can only expect to salvage some pride but even that won't be easy. India's poorest performance at the Olympics was in 1996 when they finished eighth and if they continue to play this hockey, they might even sink further this time. After three matches, India are the only team out of 12 in the men's fray without a single point. Another shocking fact.
Worst opening performance in Olympics:
India's performance after three matches at London Olympics has been the worst since 1928, the first-time ever they took part in the Olympics. This is for the first time that India have lost its first three matches at the mega showdown and conceded 11 goals (their worst till now was conceding nine goals in first three matches at the 1976 Montreal Games).
Here is a look at India's performance in the first three hockey matches in the past Olympics:
2004 Olympics: Lost 1-3 to the Netherlands, beat South Africa 4-2, lost to Australia 3-4
2000 Olympics: Beat Argentina 3-0, drew with Australia 2-2, lost to South Korea 0-2
1996 Olympics: Lost to Argentina 0-1, drew with Germany 1-1, beat the USA 4-0
1992 Olympics: Lost to Germany 0-3, beat Argentina 1-0, lost to Great Britain 1-3
1988 Olympics: Lost to Soviet Union 0-1, drew with Germany 1-1, beat Korea 3-1
1984 Olympics: Beat the USA 5-1, beat Malaysia 3-1, beat Spain 4-2
1980 Olympics: Beat Tanzania 18-0, drew with Poland 2-2, drew with Spain 2-2
1976 Olympics: Beat Argentina 4-0, lost to the Netherlands 1-3, lost to Australia 1-6
1972 Olympics: Drew with the Netherlands 1-1, beat Great Britain 5-0, lost to Australia 1-3
1968 Olympics: Lost to New Zealand 1-2, beat West Germany 2-1, beat Mexico 8-0
1964 Olympics: Drew with Spain 1-1, drew with Germany 1-1, beat the Netherlands 2-1
1960 Olympics: Beat Denmark 10-0, beat the Netherlands 4-1, beat New Zealand 3-0
1956 Olympics: Beat Afghanistan 14-0, beat the USA 16-0, beat Singapore 6-0
1952 Olympics: Beat Austria 4-0, beat Great Britain 3-1, beat the Netherlands 6-1
1948 Olympics: Beat Argentina 9-1, beat Austria 8-0, beat Spain 2-0
1936 Olympics: Beat Japan 9-0, Hungary 4-0, the USA 7-0
1932 Olympics: Beat Japan 11-1, the USA 24-1
1928 Olympics: Beat Austria 6-0, beat Belgium 9-0, beat Denmark 5-0